Women's soccer: Beavers seeking steady improvement

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Waterville native Lydia Roy will be counted on to provide some production up top for the University of Maine at Farmington women’s soccer team this fall. (UMF athletics)

FARMINGTON — Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells once famously said, “You are what your record says you are.”

Sometimes, however, a team can’t be entirely defined by wins and losses.

The University of Maine at Farmington women’s soccer team is hoping to prove that entering the 2018 season. The Beavers finished 7-11 (4-5 in the North Atlantic Conference) last season. But a walk through the basement halls of the Dearborn Gym, or by the team’s practice field near the Narrow Guauge Cinemas, will show that optimism abounds.

“We’re really excited,” UMF head coach Molly Wilkie said. “We did a lot of work in the spring to prep us team-culture-wise for the fall. We do have a really good group of leaders and players, really. We feel really optimistic and excited to continue to move through the season.”

Headlining the list of returning players is sophomore forward McKenna Brodeur, an Oakland native and Messalonskee High School graduate who had a breakout freshman season last year. Brodeur led the Beavers with 13 goals and added seven assists.

Brodeur was quick to pass the credit to her teammates for last season’s production.

“I have to give credit to the rest of the team,” Brodeur said. “I can’t score without them getting the ball to me. We have other people that are going to definitely score this year, which is really nice. It takes pressure off of everybody as a whole.”

Joining Brodeur on the attack is senior forward and Waterville native Lydia Roy. Though she has scored an impressive 23 goals over her first three seasons in Farmington, Wilkie said Roy’s true production for the Beavers doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.

“She works back on defense to win the ball for us,” Wilkie said. “She’ll make the 40-yard run into space because someone might send the ball, then she’ll work all the way back on defense. She’s really the engine of our team.”

The Beavers finished last season in the middle of the NAC standings but managed to compete with most of their conference opponents despite some key injuries.

This season, UMF is healthy and coming together quickly.

“This team is pretty close,” said Morgann Tortorella, a junior and Waterville native who will be counted on to lead the Beaver defense. “Compared to past years, we’re pretty close. … I think we’re underhyped, because a lot of people don’t know about the girls we have coming back. I think we’re solid all over the field, instead of one (area).”

To help prepare for tough conference play, the Beavers are playing a difficult non-conference schedule. UMF fell 5-0 to Plymouth (N.H.) State in the season opener Aug. 31, then held its own in a 2-1 loss to Regis College (Weston, Massachusetts) the following day. Regis scored the game-winner with just 20 seconds remaining.

Wilkie and her players believe a difficult non-conference schedule gets the team prepared for NAC competition.

“We don’t have any game that we can take off,” Wilkie said. “That’s a good thing, because it will prepare us. We have to play at our highest level every game if we want to compete with those teams. That helps, and it’s intentional, at some level. Our record might not be amazing (after those games), but we want to be able to do well in our conference.”

“I think it helps immensely,” Roy said. “I think it builds up our speed of play a lot. Sometimes, if we go in and just play a conference game, we may not be ready for it. But playing non-conference games builds up our stamina, makes our passes quicker, moving off the ball a lot better.”

The Beavers will need it entering NAC play. The top three teams from last season (Colby-Sawyer, Castleton and New England College) have left the conference, although Castleton and NEC remain on the schedule as non-conference opponents. Husson and Maine Maritime — finishing fourth and fifth, respectively in the standings last year — return, and UMF will only have seven conference games, leaving little room for error.

But the Beavers believe they are ready. With a healthy team, a healthy swagger and a stronger bond.

“Everybody just has that will and want to play for each other,” Brodeur said.

Waterville native Morgann Tortorella will be counted on to once again provide needed production up top for the University of Maine at Farmington women’s soccer team this fall. (UMF athletics)

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